Success Stories

The American Society of Agronomy

Microsoft Power BI and managed technology services

The American Society of Agronomy
Ian Popkewitz, IT/Operations Department Director, ACSESS-Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies

“Wipfli has solved problems we didn’t think were possible to fix. And with Wipfli, we’re continuing to make more and more improvements to our technology.”


American Society of Agronomy

Summary

By moving to Microsoft Power BI and redesigning its reporting, the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) solved serious technology challenges, improved relationships with its certified individuals and saved its employees significant time.

Situation

In addition to publishing scientific journals and hosting conferences, one of the ways the ASA advances the field of agronomy is by serving as a certifying body for agronomists.

Certified individuals working toward certification credits want to view different information, such as their current continuing education units (CEU) standing. They can access this information through a report on ASA’s website. During peak season, the report would take a good few minutes just to open, which led to frustrated phone calls to the ASA asking for help. 

However, ASA was having issues with its internal reports, too. With many different specialty certifications available, ASA’s master compliance report contained a massive amount of data, which struggled with its own performance challenges to the point that it was unusable. Supporting ASA’s certificate holders for CEU inquiries during the peak certification season — October through March — was getting more and more challenging.

Strategy

When Wipfli was approached with this situation, a small assessment engagement quickly determined that there were query optimizations required. There was also an opportunity to move away from older reporting technology.

Microsoft’s cloud-based Power BI was the perfect solution. The power of the Azure cloud behind Power BI allowed the ability to flex to peak-season query needs. 

Wipfli saw user-experience challenges with ASA’s report and made it user-friendly and easier to read. This included restructuring content and using color codes, icons and easy thumbs up or down to indicate reporting compliance.

Having taken over managing ASA’s reporting requirements, Wipfli is now working with ASA to implement marketing automation, bridging data in Power BI and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. 

Twice a month during peak season, ASA emails certified individuals their status and notes where they’re short on CEUs. This process takes a full two days of work for the employee tasked with the job. That means four days a month are dedicated to this manual process. But an automation tool like Dynamics CRM can pull the relevant data from the newly built master compliance report in Power BI and create an email list in just minutes. 

Results 

With the new reports up and running, ASA has received fantastic feedback from its certified individuals. No more frustrated calls after waiting five minutes for a report to open, only to have it time out. The reports now open instantly.

The redesigned reporting is mobile-friendly, enabling users who are on the road (a common occurrence) to log in from their cell phone. 

And the reports are much easier to read. Before, ASA would get phone calls from users who didn’t understand what the numbers meant. With the redesigned reports, that’s no longer an issue. And, of course, fewer phone calls means ASA employees have more time in their day-to-day to focus on core priorities.

Client profile

Founded in 1907, the American Society of Agronomy is an international scientific and professional society dedicated to advancing the field of agronomy. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, ASA is the professional home for 8,000+ members and 14,000+ certified professionals.

Relationship Executive(s)

Anirudh Nadkarni, Solutions Manager, BI and Analytics